“That’s the ugliest thing I ever saw.” Would you expect someone to react to the newborn Leatherface any other way? The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning takes us from the Dumpster-dwelling infancy of the future power-tooler to 1969, when the adopted, now-30-year-old Thomas Hewitt (Andrew Bryniarski) first goes batshit. The mayhem is spurred by the closing of the family’s rural Texas meatpacking plant and, likely, people’s tendency to call Tom a retard. Leatherface’s violent tendencies are encouraged by relative Sheriff Hoyt (evil-lapping R. Lee Ermey). The officer goes into sadistic overdrive when he tells his family that, as God as his witness, they’ll never go hungry in the abandoned town and makes stew out of the few people who are still around. And then some more tender flesh happens by: handsome youngsters Chrissie (Jordana Brewster), Bailey (Diora Baird), and brothers Dean (Taylor Handley) and Eric (Matthew Bomer), both of whom are allegedly on their way to Vietnam, though Dean plans on ditching. Besides the brief backstory, there’s little to differentiate Sheldon Turner’s “script” from a colorless, ho-hum slasher. Hoyt—a character returning not from the original but from 2003’s remake—is more of the villain here, with the obedient Leatherface, who spies his eventual weapon of choice in a dramatically scored moment, merely following suit. Torture, shrieking, pleading, gallons of blood…yawn. Just kill ’em already! One hiding-under-the-table scene, to be fair, is particularly memorable because of both its gruesomeness and its ability to suddenly make you care for the doomed kids. And there are bits—and I mean bits—of humor throughout the 84-minute flick, such as Hoyt’s reasoning that he should have both of a character’s legs hacked off for “balance.” Hopefully, too, this defense of the baby-gone-bad is meant to be a twisted chuckle: “He ain’t a ’tard. He’s just misunderstood.”—Tricia Olszewski

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